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Consultancy of the Year: The GK Group

The 2015 Public Affairs Awards are dedicated to celebrating the best work that the Public Affairs industry has to show. Over 400 public affairs practitioners gathered at the Park Plaza Riverbank for the Awards dinner on Thursday 10th December. PubAffairs was proud to be a Media Partner for the black tie event which was hosted by Adam Boulton, Sky News Tonight’s Presenter. 

Emily Wallace, CEO at GK Strategy, commented on winning the Award: "It is a huge achievement for GK to have been awarded Consultancy of the Year and we are thrilled and delighted. What stands out about GK is the fantastic team with an amazing can-do culture and a complete focus on delivering value for clients. We are extremely proud that all our hard work and success has now been recognised by our industry peers."

Below is GK's winning submission for the Best Consultancy of the Year Award.

The GK Story:

GK was established just six years ago, set up by two young guns, Robin Grainger and Luke Kennedy, working out of their kitchens. In 2014/15 we became one of the largest independently owned agencies, having built a unique relationship with the City and investors and firmly established ourselves in the public affairs marketplace.

2014/15 has been the best ever year for GK which has seen us deliver 27% revenue growth, build our team of incredible professionals, achieve fantastic successes for our clients and be shortlisted in the prestigious British Private Equity Awards (in the Due Diligence Provider of the Year category). GK currently employs 28 staff, has worked on around 200 projects and now boasts 32 retained clients.

GK is made up of two separate companies, GK Intelligence and GK Strategy. GKI provides research, analysis and policy forecasting to investors, as well as corporates, charities and public sector organisations. GKS is our Public Affairs and PR arm, supporting clients to engage, educate and market themselves to policy-makers and commissioners.

GK is a fantastic success story. We have built a business based on ambition, entrepreneurialism, dynamism, innovation and in-depth political insight. We would be proud to be awarded Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year, for what has been our most successful year to date. 

GK in 2014/15

Our people are our most important assets. We have created a working environment which not only provides a supportive culture, but which encourages and recognises excellence too. As a result, we have excellent staff retention. We recruit people not on the basis of whom they know, but because of their drive and desire to deliver. We pick the brightest and best, teach them, trust them and watch them grow. In 2014/15 we have:

  • Taken on highly respected Managing Director Emily Wallace, alongside five other new members of the team. At the same time we were also able to promote 75% of our existing staff.
  • Created a 7 person specialist Health and Social Care team, a separate Media and Digital team with huge ambitions, an Operations function, and a dedicated new business resource.
  • Invested in our digital offering, and secured new projects focused around the interface between investment decisions and a company’s digital footprint.
  • Invested significantly in training and development, introducing a new mentoring scheme and organised regular training and development sessions for all staff. 
  • Taken our senior leaders through a strengths-based leadership programme to get us ready for the future, and set up a share ownership scheme which ensures that they can all benefit from our success.
  • Delivered growth, but not at the expense of work/life balance. We allow every staff member to take two hours out of the working week to spend as they like - no questions asked – and organise regular company outings, and team celebrations.
  • Come of age, implementing CRM and Time Management systems which allow us take on any client, large or small – and go the extra mile for every one of them, without compromising on efficiency or profitability.

GK Clients:

Our client base spans small businesses, large public sector organisations to the biggest Private Equity companies in the world. Our structure, systems and independence ensures that we are able to adapt to the scale and variety of our clients’ challenges. In 2014/15 we have:

  • Won 18 new GKS clients, Successfully delivered 6 crisis communications projects all in the Health Care sector - 6 more than the year before
  • Delivered our largest ever global policy analysis project covering environmental regulation in the USA, Australia, China, Hong Kong, North Africa, the EU and the UK
  • Developed and delivered a bespoke training package for a Global business
  • Worked with a new client to navigate Number 10, Home Office and DH and help  ensure that nurses are included on the Shortage Occupation List
  • Worked with a client to successfully delay Department for Business, Innovation and Skills proposals to cut the Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA)
  • Turned around a DCMS consultation on the UK Sport strategy for a brand new client in 24 hours
  • Built support for the Teacher Car Campaign – securing cross party support and Ministerial commitment to allow teachers access to salary sacrifice schemes

What our clients say:

“GK are a highly professional and focused organisation, who have without doubt added real value for us. They have gone to a lot of trouble to get to know our business and the sector in which we operate, and have always delivered on their promises. GK employ smart people who keep us focused on meeting our key objectives and help us to ensure that we punch our weight in the political arena, both locally and nationally”. 
Adam Penwarden, Project Director, Lifeways

“GK Strategy is a passionate, hardworking team who understand our needs and have a strong focus on delivering results. From an initial single project, we now work with GK on a much larger combined PR/Public Affairs programme of activity. We’ve really enjoyed working with GK so far who have become a key part of our engagement strategy and we look forward to more work and more results in the future!”
Nicky Burke, PR Manager, Association of Accounting Technicians

“The service provided is of the highest order and has allowed us to better manage the whole aspect of lobbying and promoting the Federations needs and aspirations […] The service provided by GK is first rate and we couldn’t achieve what we have, without their excellent support”
Nigel Rees, Group Chief Executive, Glass & Glazing Federation